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Lee de ForestA Few Moments with Eddie Cantor (ca1923)

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Early sound film featuring comedian Eddie Cantor.

From the AFI/Maurice Zouary Collection at the Library of Congress. Copied at 24 fps from a 35mm print.


This movie is part of the collection: Short Format Films

Director: Lee de Forest
Producer: Lee de Forest
Sponsor: Deforest Phonofilms
Audio/Visual: sound, black & white
Keywords: comedy

Creative Commons license: Public Domain


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A Few Moments with Eddie Cantor 232.7 MB 
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Average Rating: 4.17 out of 5 stars4.17 out of 5 stars4.17 out of 5 stars4.17 out of 5 stars

Reviewer: GTMII - - July 4, 2012
Subject: Phonofilms
The notes above indicate that this was copied at 24fps from a 35mm source. I doubt it. Phonofilms were shot at about 22fps, and when they're run at 24, the difference is quite obvious. If you listen to the clip from this film in the PBS Vaudeville special, you'll hear the difference -- theirs was transferred at 24fps.

This one is running at the correct speed.

Reviewer: Shiffy 48 - 5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars - April 23, 2012
Subject: addressing some comments previously posted
according to Wikipedia, "Kid Boots" opened on 12-31-23, so this marvelous film might have been made in '24. "The Jazz Singer" was NOT the 'first real talking picture'. It wasn't even Jolson's first Vitaphone film. In Sept 26 his short "Plantation Act Review" was released by Wwarners.
"Phonofilm" was NOT a sound-on-disk system. It was
variable density optical. Cantor was a superb
entertainer. He's been brilliantly emulated in "Boardwalk Empire".

Reviewer: M.L.M. - 4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars - January 1, 2010
Subject: Eddie Cantor and Television
I found this selection very interesting. It reminded me of someone current, but I can't remember who. There is something modern about his routine and the fact that this is recorded with sound is amazing.

I remember seeing Eddie Cantor as one of the stars of the Colgate Comedy Hour in the early 50s. I was a child, but I remember his jokes about his daughters, (I, too, had only sisters)and I remember finding him very appealing. I'll bet he had an influence on many young comedians. He was funny, but he was also attractive;

Reviewer: Mr. Nostalgia - 5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars - July 4, 2008
Subject: He was all heart and a true icon of show biz
Having met Mr. Cantor personally back around 1940 when he was doing his very popular national weekly radio show that ended with his rendition of "I Loved to Spend This Hour With You," I can testify he was a wonderful guy with a lot of dignity and class who was all heart and a true icon of show biz. I was about 18 at the time. I was fresh out of high school when I asked him if he would give me a quote I could use for a show we were putting on at Pasadena City College in which he was the major star. He said, "Just say anything and you can quote me." The show was a patriotic rally about saving Democracy, a very crucial issue in those times before Pearl Harbor. He appeared free of charge and brought Dinah Shore and his personal music conductor with him, and did his shtick that was a hoot. He was not as brassy as our comics of today. Four letter words weren't being used at the time in front of audiences in Pasadena. This was long before the "anything goes" kind of comics we have today, but he was a big star for Samuel Goldwyn movies and he was a really entertaining and original singer with his banjo eyes and bouncing gestures as he performed "If You Knew Susie Like I Know Susie." You can read his bio elsewhere, you don't need me for that. What was important, he was a red, white & blue American and a great worker for FDR's March of Dimes. Nuff said about that. As for this little video made by Lee DeForest, remember this was ca. 1923, four years before Al Jolson made film history with The Jazz Singer, the first real talking picture. This sample is amazingly clear, and not stilted, and gave the folks of that day a taste of what was to come, far ahead of its time. Motion Pictures with sound were still just a glint in the Warner Bros. eyes, and the movie screens were dominated by the likes of silent stars like Rudy Valentino, Gloria Swanson and Douglas Fairbanks and dozens of other stars no longer remembered, but beloved and worshipped in their own time. We couldn't hear their voices but, As Swanson said in Sunset Boulevard, "We had faces back then" and their silent personas were the rage of the Roaring 20s. If all this seems too far off the track, this little bit of Eddie Cantor video, proves what his colleague Al Jolson said, "You ain't heard nothing yet!"

Reviewer: Therby - 2.00 out of 5 stars2.00 out of 5 stars - January 2, 2006
Subject: A Fair Sound Test
Eddie Cantors comedy is really tame for today, but he was not family friendly in his day. Many of his jokes were adult oriented and his movies were the same.(at least the ones I've seen)Personally I don't find him as funny as some of his contemporaries mentioned in another review.

Reviewer: Tamlin - 4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars - August 21, 2005
Subject: Moments of Greatness
Cantor was to go on to make a big hit on B-way from 25-30-untill the depression and everyone went west.
You can see the essentials of his routine in ur-form in this clip.
The material was not strong, but he was family friendly, unlike his immediate colleagues, the Marx bros. One noticeble thing is he was the Muhammed Ali of vaudeville- always float like a bee & dancing. Another thing is he became almost iconic like Chaplin and Keaton for his costume which consisted of a bow tie, slicked hair and way too tight jacket. This costume was resurrected 60 yrs later when Pee Wee Herman used it exactly,
Herman was a great dissapointment because he was on the verge of a new comedy form in a quasi french idiom but for whatever reason he punked out.
Cantor I always loved because he had a self depreciating sense of humor that never went so far as to be maudlin

Reviewer: Wilford B. Wolf - 5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars - July 22, 2005
Subject: Vaudeville
More historically important sound films using the DeForest sound on disk system. This time, Eddie Cantor, who would go onto be a comedy star in Hollywood in the 1930s, does basically a vaudeville routine. While critically important to the development of popular entertainment in the early decades of the 20th century, so few examples of vaudeville acts, primarily visual acts, such as acrobats, still exist.

Here, Cantor performs what is clearly the origins of the standup comic; humorous stories interspersed with song and dance. He is set up on a black stage, which it seems like an orchestra and a small audience (the crew, perhaps?) set up off camera. Intriguingly, the comedy patter still holds up for the most part, though clearly from a different era.